Weekend-sweep for Keselowski at New Hampshire
Loudon, NH (SportsNetwork.com) - Brad Keselowski became the first driver to score a weekend-sweep at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after putting on a dominating performance in Sunday's Camping World RV Sales 301.
Keselowski won Saturday's 200-lap Nationwide Series race at this 1.058-mile track and then on the following day led 138 of 305 laps en route to victory in the Sprint Cup Series event here.
The driver of the No. 2 Ford for Team Penske earned his third victory of the season, which put him in a tie with Jimmie Johnson for most Sprint Cup wins in 2014. In March, Keselowski won the Sprint Cup and Nationwide races at Las Vegas for his first-ever weekend-sweep in NASCAR national touring series competition.
Keselowski also dominated in the 400-mile Sprint Cup race at Kentucky two weeks ago. He started on the pole and led 199 of 267 laps for the victory there.
Ford has now won four consecutive races, which is the longest streak for the manufacturer in the series since 2001.
"This Ford Fusion was hauling today, and it's a privilege to have a car like this and a team that is just clicking," Keselowski said after winning for the 13th time in his Sprint Cup career. "I guess you could say that we're red hot."
Keselowski's team made a four-tire change during most of his pit stops, while the other frontrunners pitted for two tires, dropping Keselowski back in the field for restarts, as low as 10th at one time. But he charged his way through the field and was soon back in the lead.
During his final pit stop, Keselowski had a two-tire change and came out of the pits third.
This scheduled 301-lap race was extended by four laps after rookie Justin Allgaier spun around and crashed into the wall in the closing laps. Keselowski held off Kyle Busch during the green-white-checkered finish, beating him to the line by 0.75 seconds.
During the last caution, Denny Hamlin was low on fuel and had to pit from second. Jeff Gordon then lost the second-position when he ran out of gas and coasted back to the pits. That allowed Busch to move up to the runner-up position before the final restart.
"I think Kyle had four [tires] there at the end, and he was going to give me all that I had," Keselowski said. "Thankfully, we only had two laps to hold him off. Just a great race and hard fought. Kyle made me earn it there at the end."
This was the third straight time that Busch has finished second in a Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire.
"We should have been anywhere from fourth to sixth [in the finishing order], but we made a gutsy call there at the end to stay out and see if we could make it on fuel," Busch said. "We just barely made it. I ran out right at the finish."
Keselowski became the 13th different winner in the last 13 Sprint Cup races at New Hampshire, which ties a record for the longest streak of different winners at a racetrack (Texas). Keselowski won a Cup event here for the first time in 10 starts.
"I thought we would do pretty good here at Loudon [New Hampshire]," he said. "We've been really good here the last few years but just haven't been able to close out. But today we were able to do that."
Rookie Kyle Larson finished third, followed by Matt Kenseth, who won at New Hampshire last September, and Ryan Newman.
Clint Bowyer, Tony Stewart, Hamlin, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr. completed the top-10. Gordon, the current points leader, ended up finishing as the last car on the lead lap in 26th.
Keselowski's teammate, Joey Logano, placed 40th after he was involved in an accident with 72-year-old Morgan Shepherd, the driver of the No. 33 Chevrolet for Circle Sport Racing. Shepherd extended his record as the oldest competitor in NASCAR's top series.
Shepherd, who was several laps behind, spun around and collected Logano, putting both drivers into the wall. Logano had been running among the top-10 for most of the race.
"Slowest car on the racetrack took us out, go figure," Logano said. "Felt like we could have a Penske 1-2 again, and then we get taken out by the slowest car. I feel like there should be a good driver's test before you get out in the Cup car and make sure you know how to drive before you drive one. I don't know. I guess there isn't."
Shepherd spent a short time in the garage for repairs and then returned. He finished 27 laps behind in 39th.
Six-time and defending series champion Jimmie Johnson had his race end very early when he suffered a blown tire and crashed into the wall.
Johnson, who started second, experienced a flat left-rear tire on lap 7, forcing him to pit and dropping him one lap behind in 42nd.
Then on lap 14, Johnson's left-rear tire blew, sending him hard into the wall along the backstretch. He was not injured during the incident.
Shortly after Johnson's accident, Goodyear official Greg Stucker said, "The tires failed in a manner consistent with low inflation pressure."
But Johnson did not agree with Goodyear's assessment.
"I can promise you one thing, it wasn't low tire pressure," Johnson said. "I've been out here running around for two days and haven't had a flat."
Other drivers had experienced tires problems throughout the weekend at New Hampshire. Logano had failure with his left-rear tire and crashed into the wall during Friday's practice, forcing him to a backup car. Aric Almirola, who won his first career Sprint Cup race last week at Daytona, also had to switch to a backup car for this event when he wrecked due to a tire issue in Saturday's practice.
07/13 18:20:54 ET